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Apparel industry in China - statistics & facts

China has been the world’s largest apparel manufacturer and exporter for more than a decade. Benefiting from the World Trade Organization’s agreement on textile quota lifting, China’s clothing exports boomed after the turn of the millennium. In 2018, the country accounted for more than half of the global textile and clothing production, as well as more than 30 percent of worldwide apparel exports. However, in recent years, China’s clothing sector has slowed down its expansion, aiming to build a more sustainable and technology-intensive industry.

China's industrial transition

Since 2015, China’s apparel manufacturing industry has undergone a profound transition. The rising labor costs have shifted the sector towards a less labor-intensive and highly automated direction. Geographically, many apparel enterprises have relocated to lower-labor cost labor regions, such as Western and Middle China. Technologically, apparel enterprises upped their research and development spending. In 2019, more than 22,000 R&D projects were carried out in the textile and clothing sector in China. Nevertheless, during the industrial upgrade and structural transformation, an increasing number of apparel enterprises exited the market.
Apart from manufacturing, China’s apparel export industry also faced significant challenges resulting from recent international trade disputes and increasing production costs. China’s clothing export value and global share have continuously dropped in the past years. In the meantime, several rising apparel manufacturing counties in Southeast Asia started to threaten China’s leading position. Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in 2020 battered China’s clothing export industry and caused a year-on-year loss of more than eight percent.

The rise of the domestic market

Giving consideration to such factors, China’s garment enterprises sought new opportunities from the domestic market. Owing to the growing disposable income, the average expenditure on clothes and shoes in China surged over the past two decades. Also, Chinese consumer’s willingness to buy domestic brands increased substantially. According to a survey conducted in 2020, nearly 70 percent of Chinese consumers preferred domestic clothing brands to foreign ones.
Adding to the ever-increasing demand for fashion, the prevalence of online shopping also boosted China’s apparel retailing sector. In 2019, more than one-third of the apparel sold in China was via online retail platforms. To improve consumers’ online shopping experience, Chinese apparel retailers have invested in innovative technologies. In spring 2020, China’s online retail leader Alibaba rolled out its first virtual dressing room. Consumers could virtually try on more than 600 pieces of luxury items. According to Statista’s Digital Market Outlook on the apparel industry, by the end of 2023, around 58 percent of China’s market revenue will be generated through online sales, well ahead of the global average of 24 percent.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Apparel industry in China" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Domestic trade

Imports and exports

Consumer behaviors

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 33 most important statistics relating to "Apparel industry in China".

Apparel industry in China

Dossier on the topic

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Apparel industry in China - statistics & facts

China has been the world’s largest apparel manufacturer and exporter for more than a decade. Benefiting from the World Trade Organization’s agreement on textile quota lifting, China’s clothing exports boomed after the turn of the millennium. In 2018, the country accounted for more than half of the global textile and clothing production, as well as more than 30 percent of worldwide apparel exports. However, in recent years, China’s clothing sector has slowed down its expansion, aiming to build a more sustainable and technology-intensive industry.

China's industrial transition

Since 2015, China’s apparel manufacturing industry has undergone a profound transition. The rising labor costs have shifted the sector towards a less labor-intensive and highly automated direction. Geographically, many apparel enterprises have relocated to lower-labor cost labor regions, such as Western and Middle China. Technologically, apparel enterprises upped their research and development spending. In 2019, more than 22,000 R&D projects were carried out in the textile and clothing sector in China. Nevertheless, during the industrial upgrade and structural transformation, an increasing number of apparel enterprises exited the market.
Apart from manufacturing, China’s apparel export industry also faced significant challenges resulting from recent international trade disputes and increasing production costs. China’s clothing export value and global share have continuously dropped in the past years. In the meantime, several rising apparel manufacturing counties in Southeast Asia started to threaten China’s leading position. Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in 2020 battered China’s clothing export industry and caused a year-on-year loss of more than eight percent.

The rise of the domestic market

Giving consideration to such factors, China’s garment enterprises sought new opportunities from the domestic market. Owing to the growing disposable income, the average expenditure on clothes and shoes in China surged over the past two decades. Also, Chinese consumer’s willingness to buy domestic brands increased substantially. According to a survey conducted in 2020, nearly 70 percent of Chinese consumers preferred domestic clothing brands to foreign ones.
Adding to the ever-increasing demand for fashion, the prevalence of online shopping also boosted China’s apparel retailing sector. In 2019, more than one-third of the apparel sold in China was via online retail platforms. To improve consumers’ online shopping experience, Chinese apparel retailers have invested in innovative technologies. In spring 2020, China’s online retail leader Alibaba rolled out its first virtual dressing room. Consumers could virtually try on more than 600 pieces of luxury items. According to Statista’s Digital Market Outlook on the apparel industry, by the end of 2023, around 58 percent of China’s market revenue will be generated through online sales, well ahead of the global average of 24 percent.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 33 most important statistics relating to "Apparel industry in China".

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